Oct 17, 2010

#BDS: Despite pressure, Pete Seeger won’t cancel participation in Israeli-organized peace rally

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- No one tells Pete Seeger what to do.
At 91, the iconic folk singer has penned hundreds of protest songs, railing against everything from the Vietnam War to global warming. He was blacklisted in the 1950s, he slept under the stars with striking farmers and he still reads the Communist “People’s  World” -- along with The New York Times, of course.
Yet despite his opposition to Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, Seeger refuses to heed calls to boycott an upcoming peace event organized by an Israeli institution.
In recent weeks, Seeger has rejected calls by individuals and organizations demanding that he cancel his participation in “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,” an online event promoting peace through cross-border cooperation and scheduled for a Nov. 14 global broadcast atwww.withearthandeachother.org.
“My religion is that the world will not survive without dialogue,” Seeger told JTA in an interview from his home in Beacon, N.Y. “I would say to the Israelis and the Palestinians, if you think it’s terrible now, just think ahead 50 years to when the world blows itself up. It will get worse unless you learn how to turn the world around peacefully.”
Seeger was invited to perform for the online peace rally by event organizers Friends of the Arava Institute, the North American fund-raising arm of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The institute works with Arab and Jewish leaders to solve the region's environmental challenges cooperatively.
Thirty other organizations have signed on to the event, ranging from Peace Child Israel to the Jewish National Fund.
Actor Mandy Patinkin will emcee an event that will feature group viewings organized around the world from San Francisco to Bonn, Germany.
Activists from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement have been pushing Seeger to cancel, posting open letters to him on their websites.

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